This is the motorcycle that Yamaha is using to show how the carbon-fibre resin chassis that auto detects damage and bruises will be used. The factory has put the tech onto a patent around a FJR sport tourer - does that mean that this is a pointer to a lightweight, high-tech version of the popular mile muncher?
This is the motorcycle that Yamaha is using to show how the carbon-fibre resin chassis that auto detects damage and BRUISES will be used. The factory has put the tech onto a patent around a FJR sport tourer – does that mean that this is a pointer to a lightweight, high-tech version of the popular mile muncher?

Here’s a design patent from Yamaha that’s going to blow a few minds – a carbon-fibre framed motorcycle that BRUISES when the frame is damaged, even if the bike falls over at a standstill.

It might sound like a thought-pattern straight from the latest sci-fi blockbuster movie, but the truth of the matter is that this plan to shift road-going chassis into the next phase of everyday motorcycle reality IS happening in the Yamaha laboratories right now.

The dotted line within the carbon-fibre resin frame is the detection wire that, if damaged at any of the key points built into the frame, tells the rider that the chassis is damaged.
The dotted line within the carbon-fibre resin frame is the detection wire that, if damaged at any of the key points built into the frame, tells the rider that the chassis is compromised.

The patent was filed under the title ‘Leaning Vehicle’ making it suitably vague to find in the United States patent office, but after being unearthed by MoreBikes you can see that the details of what this design actually contains are pretty jaw-dropping.

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The dotted line included within a on-piece carbon-fibre resin seat unit detects left-side damage to itself between points 645 and 646. Once it finds damage, it sends notification to an output unit.
The dotted line included within a on-piece carbon-fibre resin seat unit detects left-side damage to itself between points 645 and 646. Once it finds damage, it sends notification to an output unit.

In the extensive 29 page document, Yamaha outlines its plans for a motorcycle (using the current FJR bike in the illustration – could this mean that the bike where this tech is first seen will be a large capacity, fast sport tourer?) that has a carbon-fibre resin main frame with a carbon-fibre resin subframe bolted to it.

This is the early part of the patent document that clearly outlines (sic) 'fiber-reinforced resin containing carbon fibers' as the material used to make the upper and lower frame of the motorcycle. Yamaha says that it's going  to do this to decrease weight and increase strength of the structure.
This is the early part of the patent document that clearly outlines (sic) ‘fiber-reinforced resin containing carbon fibers’ as the material used to make the upper and lower frame of the motorcycle. Yamaha says that it’s going to do this to decrease weight and increase strength of the structure.

Yamaha explains that for a production motorcycle, there are issues with flex in the chassis and that to overcome this so that the motorcycle is sturdy-enough on the move, the chassis has to be stiffened up. The downside to this is that the frame and subframe can suffer from cracks or other damage when the bike goes over on its side, even at a standstill.

It’s clear from this part of the patent document that Yamaha is worried about damage to the carbon-fibre chassis parts, both inner and outer areas of the main frame and the subframe.

Obviously, this is a worry for when this chassis tech turns up on a future production motorcycle, so the solution is four fold – according to this document.

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The plan for a wire built into the carbon-fibre frame is made clear in section 0028.

Firstly, the carbon-fibre resin chassis has an electric cable actually put into the structure of the frame during manufacture. The cable has a slightly lower resistance to impact than the carbon-fibre resin material around it. Once the bike falls over, even at a standstill, the cable is damaged and this then sends an alert to a Damage Detection Control Unit (DDCU).

Secondly, the DDCU can notify the rider of damage to the frame (throughout the document Yamaha is concerned about damage, including chassis cracks, appearing on the inside of the frame where it wouldn’t be easily spotted visually without a tear-down of the motorcycle’s major component parts). There are a couple of options for this in the document including swapping out the idea of the electric cable for a fibre-optic version with will also detect chassis differences between the main frame and the subframe.

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Thirdly, the actual material that the chassis is made from changes colour with this being triggered by a relay from the optical cable secreted into the carbon-fibre resin construction. Whatever colour the entire chassis is, where it’s damaged then it’s that area specifically that would change colour – effectively this is a bruise on the chassis of the motorcycle.

A clear description of the frame ‘bruising’ when damaged is outlined in section 0036.

Finally, an option also discussed in the document is a paint applied to the chassis that emits LIGHT when damaged. The idea being that the entire chassis is coated in the material that, when the outer layer is damaged in even a small way, allows light to penetrate the top layer making damage-identification easy. Yamaha says that this final option is cheaper than any of the others.

‘Emits light’ is mentioned in sections 0041 and 0042 with 0043 saying that this is a simple, low cost option to the idea of a carbon-fibre chassis that self-identifies when and where it’s damaged after a fall.

In terms of when this sort of tech is likely to make it to the current motorcycle world, it’s very difficult to say. This patent document was filed weeks ago and as far as we know, this is the first time such an idea has been explained in relation to a carbon-fibre resin framed motorcycle set for production.

It could take years before these trick chassis touches actually become common on motorcycles (if they ever make it at all), but for now this is the current state of thinking deep in the future-tech corners of Yamaha.

Tony Carter

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